Troy McGhie

Mar 22, 2021

2 min read

Building a Community of Compassion

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s “I Still Believe in Our City” mural, Brooklyn

Our diversity has always been a point of pride for me, a sign of our strength, both across our country and right here on the North Shore. The rising instances of hate crimes against Asian Americans throughout the past year have been alarming and shameful. Last week’s shooting spree in Atlanta was downright horrific.

We must not only condemn this mass shooting, but also acknowledge that it did not come out of a vacuum. Inappropriate, dangerous language from the highest level of government last year helped turn a segment of our population into potential scapegoats for a deadly virus that has claimed the lives of more than a half million Americans.

Our words matter. We learn that lesson again and again. We saw it on Jan. 6, when mobs stormed the U.S Capitol building. We saw it last week in Atlanta.

In recent months, you may have seen a powerful antidote to the hateful anti-Asian sentiment. Multidisciplinary artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya — her Instagram handle is @alonglastname — worked with the NYC Commission on Human Rights to create a public awareness campaign, “I Still Believe in Our City.”

“Some might have thought we’d just slink off in the face of these assaults,” Phingbodhipakkiya said of Asian Pacific Islanders’ reaction to mounting incidents of hate last year. “But we don’t scare that easily. We mobilized, amplifying our voices to stand up for our communities. … We’re made of grit, hustle and hope, the same as every New Yorker, and we know this city is greater than her ugliest moments.”

Phingbodhipakkiya’s “I Still Believe in Our City” artwork is now a mural installation at the Atlantic Avenue terminal in Brooklyn, and her work is also featured on MTA stations and bus stops across the city. You can even share her campaign on your own social media.

This is the type of message we need to see more — both right here on the North Shore and across our country. Our cultural diversity makes us stronger. We must make that clear in all our interactions. We must all condemn hatred in all forms. And we must remind our friends and neighbors of Asian descent that they are valued members of our society.

I went to school in diverse classrooms, I teach in diverse classrooms, and it was important to my wife and me that our sons were raised in a similar environment of diversity. I am proud to run for City Council to represent this diverse district, and do so on a platform of unity. As your Councilman, I will bring people together. And I will always be there to speak up for you, no matter who you are.